- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer has given the FBI the names of 212 persons his own enforcement agents suspect may be smuggling cigarettes to fund terrorist activities.
Sixty-one of the 212 have been arrested for cigarette smuggling and 151 are under investigation, according to documents released by the comptroller's office, which is responsible for collecting taxes, including levies on cigarettes. Thirty-five of the 61 arrested listed addresses in New York, and 18 of them listed cities in Virginia.
Only the names of the 61 arrested individuals were released, and all 61 names appear to be of Arabic or Middle Eastern origin. But so, too, are the names of roughly half of all persons the comptroller's agents have arrested for cigarette smuggling, according to Schaefer spokesman Michael Golden.
"A good portion [of persons arrested] have Russian names, too," Mr. Golden said. "We are talking about organized crime."
Peter A. Gulotta, a special agent in the FBI's Baltimore office, refused to comment on the terrorism investigation, which is being handled by headquarters.
FBI agents swarmed the Washington-Baltimore region in the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. They focused particularly on Laurel, where it was discovered several hijackers lived in low-budget motels before the attacks.
Many cigarette-smuggling arrests by the comptroller's agents have been made in Howard County, where motels the hijackers stayed in are located.
It is not the first time terrorism has been tied to cigarette smuggling.
In March, federal prosecutors in Charlotte, N.C., indicted four persons with ties to a Lebanese cigarette-smuggling ring for supplying cash and military equipment including global positioning and radar devices and night-vision goggles to the guerrilla group Hezbollah.
Those indictments go back to the July 2000 breakup of a cigarette smuggling ring in North Carolina that resulted in the additional indictment of 18 persons for smuggling, money laundering and immigration violations.
Last year, the head of the U.S. Customs Service told Congress that cigarette imports into the United States surged in 1999, and that profits from cigarette smuggling now rival those from drug trafficking.
Cigarette smugglers make money by buying cigarettes in low-tax states and illegally reselling them in high tobacco-tax states such as Maryland.
Mr. Schaefer's statement yesterday, after a Board of Public Works meeting, came just hours before his office announced the biggest one-day cigarette smuggling seizure in the agency's history.
Yesterday morning at the junction of Interstate 495 and Route 5 in Prince George's County, comptroller's agents seized 16,850 packs of unstamped, untaxed cigarettes stuffed into a Chevrolet Astro van driven by Sergey Malevskiy, 61, of Singer Island, Fla.
In the afternoon, agents made another seizure in Prince George's County, this time at the junction of the Capital Beltway and Allentown Road. They netted 12,040 untaxed packs in a Ford Windstar van driven by Malgorzat Sawieljew, 45, of Little Falls, N.J.
Both men were arrested, and their vans were also seized.
Since July 1, comptroller's agents have made nine arrests and seized 43,490 packs of illegal cigarettes valued at $158,322 and representing a tax loss of $28,721.
During the last fiscal year, agents made 73 arrests and seized 212,255 packs of contraband cigarettes, valued at $772,608 and representing a tax loss of $140,000.
Soon after Gov. Parris N. Glendening opened the Board of Public Works meeting with talk about his trip to New York, Mr. Schaefer introduced a resolution commending and supporting the president and the mayor of New York for their "actions in defense of the principles of freedom."
After his motion was not seconded by Mr. Glendening or Treasurer Richard N. Dixon, Mr. Schaefer who served two terms as governor before Mr. Glendening said he couldn't understand why the other members of the three-person board wouldn't back the resolution.
Mr. Schaefer said that Mr. Glendening wasn't doing enough to combat terrorism in Maryland, and that he couldn't understand why Mr. Dixon, a veteran paratrooper, "wouldn't say, 'We support the president and mayor.'"
But the dust-up, not unlike others during Mr. Schaefer's three years as comptroller, may have been as much about his strained relations with Mr. Glendening and Mr. Dixon, his onetime ally.
"These are serious issues and this is not the time for the comptroller to continue his petulant behavior," said Glendening spokeswoman Michelle Byrnie.
Mr. Dixon said the resolution appeared almost identical to one that had been circulated by a national association of auditors, comptrollers and state treasurers.
"I think everybody in this country supports the president, but the Board of Public Works is not the appropriate forum," Mr. Dixon said. "It's a meeting to transact state business."

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